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James J. Couzens


United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
1922 – 1936
Preceded by Truman H. Newberry
Succeeded by Prentiss M. Brown

In office
1919 – 1922
Preceded by Oscar Marx
Succeeded by John C. Lodge

Born August 26, 1872
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
Died October 22, 1936
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Republican
Children Frank Couzens

James J. Couzens (August 26, 1872 – October 22, 1936) was a U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan, the Mayor of Detroit, an industrialist, and philanthropist.

Contents

Early life and career

Couzens was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada and attended the public schools of Chatham. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1890 and worked as a railroad car checker 1890-1897. He was a clerk in the coal business 1897-1903.

Association with Henry Ford

In 1903, he was one of the initial business associates of Henry Ford involved in founding the Ford Motor Company. Couzens became vice president and general manager of the company. In 1919, he sold his interest in the company to the Ford family for $35,000,000.

Detroit work and political career

He was president of the Bank of Detroit and director of the Detroit Trust Company. He was commissioner of street railways 1913-1915 and commissioner of the metropolitan police department 1916-1918. He was mayor of Detroit 1919-1922. As mayor, Couzens installed municipal street railways.

Senatorial career

Couzens was appointed November 29, 1922, as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Truman H. Newberry. This appointment was confirmed by his election on November 4, 1924, at which time he was also elected to a full term commencing March 4, 1925. He was reelected in 1930, serving in total from November 29, 1922, until his death on October 22, 1936. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1936, the loss generally attributed to Couzens support for Roosevelt's New Deal programs. He was chairman of the U.S. Senates Committee on Civil Service in the Sixty-ninth Congress, the U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor in the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Congresses, the U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce in the Seventy-first and Seventy-second Congresses. Couzens' actions in Congress generally followed those of the Progressive Republicans, advocating acts such as high graduated income tax and public ownership of utilities.

Couzens died in Detroit and is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery there.

Philanthrophy

Couzens established the Children's Fund of Michigan with a $10,000,000 grant. He also gave $1,000,000 for relief in Detroit and began a fund to make loans to the physically handicapped. Under Dr Frank Norton and Dr Kenneth Richard Gibson and their secretary, Kathryn Hutchison, the Children's Fund, among other things, provided free health and dental work for indigent Detroit children. The Fund was set up with a 25 year life span, and the project ended in the mid-1950s.

In response to the Bath School Disaster, in which Andrew Kehoe, an embittered school board member and treasurer, planted dynamite in the basement of a school in Bath Township, Michigan, Couzens gave $75,000 to fund rebuilding, and the new school was dedicated as the "James Couzens Agricultural School". He donated $600,000 to the University of Michigan for the building of a residence hall for female nursing students; it was named Couzens Hall in his honor.

in the 1930's, Couzens donated $1 million to Children's Hospital of Michigan, in response to a birthday request from his wife for "a simple box in which to keep my pearls." Couzens complied, including a note within the box describing the $1 million gift, stating "My dear, your new pearls will be all the children who are eventually treated there." Today, Children's Hospital of Michigan is part of the Detroit Medical Center.

Miscellaneous

Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest: "Pronounced exactly as cousins." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

Couzens' son, Frank Couzens (b. 1902) was also Mayor of Detroit, 1934-38.

The middle section of the Lodge Freeway in Detroit, Michigan was originally named for him, after the entire freeway was renamed to the Lodge now only the service drive retains the Couzens name.

Bibliography

  • American National Biography
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Barnard, Harry. Independent Man: The Life of James Couzens. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958. Republished by Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8143-3085-1
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Services Held in the House of Representatives of the United States, Together with Remarks Presented in Eulogy of James Couzens, Late a Senator from Michigan. 75th Cong., 1st sess., 1937. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1938.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Oscar Marx
Mayor of Detroit
1919–1922
Succeeded by
John C. Lodge
United States Senate
Preceded by
Truman H. Newberry
United States Senator (Class 2) from Michigan
1922–1936
Succeeded by
Prentiss M. Brown
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Mason M. Patrick
Cover of Time Magazine
16 July 1923
Succeeded by
Roy Asa Haynes
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